Hannah More.

The complete works of Hannah More online

. (page 20 of 135)
Online LibraryHannah MoreThe complete works of Hannah More → online text (page 20 of 135)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Gorrupted pleasures in the turbid wavee
Of life's polluted stream, and madly quit
The living fountain of perennial grace !



The righteoua is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in his stead.

Proverbs ofSaHonum*

On peut dcM plus grands rois surprendre la justice.

Incapable de tromper*

lis out peine a s'echapper

Des pieges de I'artifice.
Un ocBur noble ne peut sonpconner en autrui

La bassesse et la malice

Qu'ii ne sent point en luL

Esther, Tragedie de Radne,


Dabiub, kinir of Media and Babylon.
gJJ^J"^"' > courtiers, enemies to Daniel.

AiuLSPBs, a young Median lord, friend and

convert to £^el.

8cene^T%e cUy of BcibyUn,

The subject is taken from the sixth chapter of the prophet Daniel.



Pilar. Txs ! — I have noted with a jealous eye.
The pow'r of this new fav'rite ! Daniel reigns.
And not Darius ! Daniel guides the springs
Which move this* mighty empire. High he sits.
Supreme in favour with both prince and people.
Where is tho spirit of our Median lords.
Tamely to crouch and bend the supple knee
To this new god ! By Mithras, 'tis too much !
Shall ^eat Arbaoes' race to Daniel bow !
A fbreij^ner, a captive, and a Jew 7
Something must be devis'd, and that right soon.
To shake his credit

Sor, Rather hope to shake

The mountain pine, whose twisting fibres clasp
The earth, deep rootod I Rather hope to shake

The Scythian Taurus from his central base !
No— Daniel sits too absolute in pow'r.
Too ^f m in favour, for the keenest shaft
Of nicely-aiming jealousy to reach him.

Phar, Rather he sits too high to sit securely,
Yes ! he has reach'd that pinnacle of pow'r
Which dosely touches on depression's verge.
Hast thou then liv'd in courts 7 hast thou grown

Beneath the mask a subtle statesman weafs,
To hide his secret soul, and dost not know
That of all fickle Fortune's transient gifts,
Tavour is most deceitfiil ? 'TIS a beam,
Which darts uncertain brightness for a moment!
The faint precarious, fickly shine of pow'r ;
Giv'n without merit, by caprice withdrawn.
No trifie is so small as what obtains.
Save that which loses favour , 'tis a breath.
Which hangs upon a smile ! A look, a word.

Digitized by




A firown, tbe lir-bailt tower of fortune ihakee,

And down the uiiBabttantial fabric falls !

DariiiB, jott and clement aa be ia,

If I mistake not, may be wreog^t upon

By prudent wiles, by Flatt*ry*8 pleasant copt

Administer'd with caation.

Sor. But the means?

For Daniel's lift (a foe must grant him thai)
Is so repine with goodness, so adom'd
With every virtue so exactly squar'd
By wisdom's nieest rules, 'twill be most hard
To diarse him with the shadow of offence.
Pure is his fame as Scy thia's mountain snows,
When not a breath pollutes them i O Pbarns^ces,
I've soann'd the actions of his daily lifb
With all th' industrious malice of a foe ;
And nothing meets mine eye but deeds of hon-
In office pure ; for equitable acts
Renown'd : injustic and impartial truth,
The Grecian Themis is not more severe.

Phar, By yon bright sun, thou bkzon'st forth
his praise
As if with rapture thou did'st read the page
Where these fidr deeds are written !

Sor, Thou mistak'st

I only meant to show what cause we have
To hate and foar him. I but meant to paint
His popular virtues and eclipsing merit
Then for devotion and religious zeal,
Who so renown'd as Daniel ? Of his law
Observant in th' extreme. Thrice ev'ry day
With prostrate reverence, he adores his God :
With superstitious awe his face he turns
Tow'rds his belov'd Jerusalem, as if
Some local,, partial God, might there be found
To hear his supplication. No affair
Pf state, no business so importunate.
Kg pleasure so alluring, no employ
9f such high import, to seduce his xeal
From this observance due !

Pkar. There, there he fUls !

Bnough my fr*end ! His piety destroys him.
rhere, at the very footstool of hb God,
Where he implores protection, there I'll crush

Sor. What means Fhamaces ?

Phar, Ask not what I mean,

fhe new idea floating in my brain
Has yet receiv'd no form. 'TIS yet too soon
To give it body, circumstance, or breath.
The seeds of mighty deeds are lab'ring here.
And strug|rling for a birth ! 'TIS near the hour
The king is wont to summon us to council :
Ere that, this big conception of mymind
I'll shape to form and being. Thou, niean<

Convene our choeen friends : for I sfaaH need
The aid of all your ooundls, and the weight
of grave authority.

Sor, Who shall be trusted 7

Phar, With our immediate motive none,
A choeen band of friends, who most repine
At Daniers exaltation. — But the scheme
I meditate must be disclos'd to all
Who bear high office; all our Median rulers,
Princes and captains, presidents and lords ;
All must assemble. 'Tit a common cause :
All but tbe young Araspes : he uclines

To Daniel and his God. He sits attent, •
With ravish'd ears, to listen to his lore.
With rev'rence names Jerusalem, and read*
The volume of the law. No more he bows
To hail the golden Ruler of tbe Day,
But looks for some great Prophet, greatet for.
So they pretend, than Mithras! From bim

Conceal whate'er of injury is devis'd
'Gainst DaaieL Be it to thjr care to-day
To keep him from the oounciL

iSw. 'Tb well thought

'Tis now about the hour of Daniel's prayer .
Araspes too is with him ! and to day
They will not sit in counciL Haste we then
Designs of high importance, once conceiv'd
Should be aooompliah'd ! Genius which dis-
And courage which achieves, despise the aid
Of ling'ring Circumspection ! The keen spirit
Seises the prompt occasion, makes the thought
Start into instant action, and at once
Plans and performs, resolves and executes !

Scene — DanieTe home.


Araepee, Phookbd, proceed, thrice venerable
Enlighten my dark mind with this new ray«
This dawning of salvation ! Tell me more
Of this expected King ! this Comforter !
This Promise of the nations ! this great Hope
Of anxious Israel ! This unborn Prophet!
This wonderful, this mighty Counsellor !
This everlasting Lord ! this Prince of Peace !
This balm of Gilead, which shall heal the

, wounds
Of universal nature ! this Messiah !
Redeemer, Saviour, Suflnrer, Victim, God !

Dan, Enoufih to animate our foith, we know.
But not enough to soothe the curious pride
Of vain philosophy ! EInough to cheer
Our path we see, the rest is hid in clouds ;^
And heaven's own shadows rest upon the view !

Arae. Go on blest sage ! I could for ever hear,
Untir'd, thy admonition ! tell roe how
I shall obtain the favoar of that God
I but be|nn to know, but fain would serve.

Dan, By deep humility, by faith unfoign'd.
By holy deeds, best proof of living faith !
O Faith,* thou wonder-working prindple,
Eternal substance of our present hope.
Thou evidence of things mvisible!
What cannot man sustain, sustain'd by thee *
The time would fail, and the bright star of day
Would quench his beams in ocean, and resign
His empire to the silver queen of night ;
And she again descend the steep of heaven.
If I should tell what wonders Faith achiev'd
By Gideon, Barak, and the holy seor,
Elkanah's son ; the pious Gilead ite,
Ill.fated Jephthah ! He of Zorah toot
In strength uneqaall'd ; and the shepherd-kins
Who vanquish'd Gath's fell giant ! Need I teU
Of holy prophets, who by conqo'ring Faitli,
* Hebrews, eliap^ xL ^S

Digitized by




Wrooght deeds incredible to mortal sense ;
Vui^aishM contending kingdoms, qaell'd the

or fiuioas pestilence, eztinguishM fire !
Victorioas Faith ! others by thee endur'd
Exile, disgrace, captivity, and death I
Some uncomplaining, bore (nor be it deem'd
The meanest exercise of well-try*d Faith)
The cruel mocking, and the bitter taunt,
Foo. obloquy, and mideeerv'd reproach :
Despisine shame, that death to human pride !
Ara$, How shall this faith be sought 7
Dmn, By earnest prayer,

Solicit first the wisdom from above :
Wisdom, whose fruits are purity and peace !
Wisdom ! that bright intelligence, which sat
Supreme, when with his golden compasses*
Th' Eternal [dannM the ubric of the world,
Product his fair idea into light.
And said, that all was goM ! Wisdom, blest

The brightness of the everlasting light !
The spotless mirror of the power of God I
The reflex imase of th' all perfect Mind I
A stream translucent, flowing from the source
Of glory infinite ! a cloudless light !
Defilement cannot touch nor sin pollute
Her unstainM purity I Not Ophir's gold.
Nor Ethiopians gems can match her price !
The ruby of the mine is pale before her !
And, like the oil Elisha^s bounty blessM,
She is a treasure which doth grow by use,
And uMiltiply by spending ! She contains,
Within herself the sum of excellence.
If riches are desired, wisdom is wealth !
If prudence, where shall keen Invention find
Artificer more cunning ? If renown,
In her right hand it comes ! If piety.
Are not her labours virtues ? If the lore
Which sage E^rience teaches, lo ! she scans
Antiquity*8 dark truths ; the past she knows,
Anticipates the future ; not by arts
Forbidden, of Chaldean sorcerer,
But from the piercing ken of deep Foreknow-
From her sure science of the human heart
She weighs effects with causes, ends with

Resolving ^ into the sovereign will.
For earthly blessinflrs moderate be thy pray*r
And qualified ; for Ti^ht, for strength, for grace,
Unbounded thy petition.

Anu. Now, O prophet !

Ezi^ain the secret doubts which rack my mind.
And my weak sense conibund. Give me some

line •

To sound the depths of Providence ! O say.
Why the ungodly prosper? why their root
Shoots deep, and their thick branches flourish

Like the green bay tree? why the righteous

Like tender plants to shivering winds expos*d.
Is 8trip*d and torn, in naked virtue bare.
And nippM by cruel Sorrow's biting blast ?
Explain, O I>anie1, these mysterious ways
To my fiiint apprehension ! For as yet
I 've much to learn. Fair Truth's immortal sun

* S.>e Paradiw Lott, book vii. line S3S. Prorerbs*
ikap. viii. ver. 87.

Is sometimes hid in clouds ; not that her light
Is in itself defbctive; but obscur'd
By my weak prejudice, imperfect Faith,
Ajid all the thousand causes which obstruct
The growth of goodness.

Dan, Follow me, Araspes.

Within then shalt peruse the sacred page,
The book of life eternal ! that will show thee
The end of the ungodly ; thou wilt own
How short their longest period ; wilt perceive
How black a night succeeds their brightest day*.
Thy purged eye will see God is not slack.
As men count slackness, to fulfil his word.
Weigh well this book ; and may the Spirit of

Who stamp'd the seal of truth (m the bless'd

Descend into thy soul, remove thy doubts.
Clear the perplexed, and solve the intricate.
Till fiiith be lost in sight, and hope in joy !

PART in.

Darhts on ki9 throne — ^Phaknaoks, Soranus
princes^ preoidentSt and eourtiero,

Pham, Hail ! king Darius, live for ever !

Dariui, Welcome !

Welcome my princes, presidents, and friends !
Now tell me, has your wisdom aught devisM
To aid Uie commonwealth ? In our new empire,
Subdu'd Chaldea, is there aught remains
Your prudence can suggest to serve the state.
To benefit the subject, to redress
And raise the injur'd, to assist the oppress'd.
And humble the oppressor 1 If you know,
Speak freely, princes ! Why am I a king.
Except to poise the awful scale of justice
With even hand ; to minister to want ;
To bless the nations with a lib'ral rule,
Vicegerant of th' eternal Oromasdes ?

Phar. So absolute thy wisdom, mighty king.
All counsel were superfluous.

Darius. Hold, Pharnaces !

No adulation ; tis the death of virtue ;
Who flatters is of all mankind the lowest,
Save he who courts flattery. Kings are men.
As feeble and as frail as those they rule.
And born like them, to die. The Indian mo.

Unhappy Chbsus, lately sat aloft.
Almost above mortality ; now see him !
Sunk to the vile condition of a slave.
He swells the train of Cyrus ! I, like him.
To misery am obnoxious. See this throne ;
This royal throne the great Nebassar fiU'd;
Yet hence hb pride expell'd him ! Yonder wall.
The dread terrific writing to the eyes
Of proud Belsh^zar show'd ; sad monuments -
Of Heav'n's tremendous vengeance ! and shall I,
Unwarn'd by sufch examples, cherish pride ?
Yet to their dire calamities I owe
The brightest gem that glistens in my crown,
Sage Daniel. If my speech have aught of worth.
Or if my life with aught of good be grac'd,
To him alone I owe it.

Soranus {aside to Pharnaces,) Now Phar.
Will he* run o'er and dwell upon his praise.

Digitized by




As if we De*er had heard it; nay, will swell
The nauseous catalogue with many a rirtne
His own fond fancy coins.

Phar, O, great Darics !

Let thine unworthy servant's words fiod grace.
And meet acceptance in his royal ear.
Who subjugates the east ! Let not the king
With anger hear my pray'r.

Daritu. rharnaces, speak ;

I know thou loT*8t me ; I but meant to chide
Thy flatt'ry, not reprove thee for thy zcaL
Speak boldly, friends, as man should speak to

Pensh the barb'rous maxims of the east.
Which basely would enslave the free-bom mind.
And plunder man of the best gift of HeavX
His liberty of souL

Phar. Darius ! hear me.

Thy princes, and the captains of thy bands.
Thy presidents, the nobles who bear rule
0*er provinces, and I, thine homble creature.
Less than the least in merit, but in love,
bi zeal, and duty, eqnal with the first.
We have devis*d a measure to confirm
Thy infant empire, to establish firmly
Thy pow'r and new dominion, and secure
Thy growing greatness past the pow*r of

Darius, I am prepar*d to hear thee. Speak

Phar. The wretched Babylonians long have

Beneath the rule of princes, weak or rash.
. The rod of pow*r was sway*d alike amiss.
By feeble Merodach and &rce Belshazzar.
due let the slackened reins too loosely float
Upon the people's neck, and lost his pow'r
Bt nerveless relaxation. He, who follow'd,
aeld with a tyrant's hand the cruel curb.
And check'd the groaning nation till it bled ;
On different rocks they met one common ruin.
Their edicts were irresolute, their laws
Were feebly plann'd, their counsels ill advisM ;
Now so relax'd, and now so overstrain'd.
That the tir'd people, wearied with the weight
They long have borne, will soon disdain con-

Tread on all rule, and spurn the hand that

guides 'em.
Darius, But say what remedy 7
Phar. That too, O king I,

Thy servants have provided. Hitherto
They bare the yoke submissive. But to fix
Thy pow'r and their obedience, to reduce
All hearts to thy dominion, yet avoid
Those deeds of cruelty thy nature starts at.
Thou should'st begin by some imperial act
Of absolute dominion, yet unstain'd
By aught of barbarous. For know, O king !
Wholesome severity, if wisely fram'd
With sober discipline, procures more reverence
Than all the lenient counsels and weak mea-
Of frail irresolution.

Darius. Now proceed

To thy request

Phar. Not I, but all request it

Be thy imperial edict issued straight.
And let a firm decree be this day paas'd,
Irrevocable as our Median laws.

Ordain, that for the space of thirty days
No subject in thy realm shall aught request
Of God or man, except of thee, O king !

Darius. Wherefore this strange decree 7

Phar. 'Twill fix the crown

With lasting safety on thy royal brow.
And, by a bloodless means, preserve th' obe-
Of this new empire. Think how much HwilT

Thy high renown ! *Twill make thy name r»

And popular beyond example. What !
To be as Heav'n, dispensing good and ill
For thirty days ! With thine own ears to bear
Thy people's wants, with thine own lib'ral hands
To bless thy suppliant subjects ! O, Darius !
Thoul't seem as bounteous as a giving God !
And reign in ev'ry heart in Babylon
As well as Media ! What a glorious state.
To be the sovereign arbiter of good !
The first efficient cause of happiness!
To scatter mercies with a plenteous hand.
And to be blest thyself in blessin? others !

Darius. Is this the gen'ral wish 7

[Pnnces and courtiers kneet^

CUtf president. Of one, of alL

Behold thy princes, presidents and lords.
Thy counsellors, and captains ! See, O king !

[Presents the edu.i.
Behold the instrument our zeal has drawn ;
The edict is prepared. We only wait
The confirmation of thy gracious word, '
And thy imperial signet

Darius. Say, Phamaces, ^

What penalty awaits the man who d&res
Transgress our mandate 7

Phar. Instant death, O king f

This statute says; * Should any subject daie
Petition, for the space of thirty days.
Of God or man, except of thee, O king*
He shall be thrown into yon dreadful den
Of hungry lions!*

Darius. Hold ! Methinks a deed

Of such importance should be wisely weigh'd.

Phar. We have resolv'd it, mighty king
with care.
With closest scratiny. On us devolve
Whatever blame occurs !

Darius. I'm satisfy'd.

Then to your wisdom I commit me, princes.
Behold the royal signet : see 'tis done.

Phar. (aside) There Daniel fell ! That signet
seal'd his doom.

Darius (after a pause.) Let me reflect — Suie
I have been too rash ! \

Why such intemp'rate haste? But you are

And would not counsel this severe decree
But for the wisest purpose. Yet, methinks,
I might have weigh'd, and in my mind resolv'd
This statute, ere, the royal signet stamp'd.
It had been past repeal. Sage Daniel, too !
My counsellor, my guide, my well-try 'd friend^
He should have been consulted ; he, whose wis

I still have fbnnd oracular !

Phar. Mighty kin^ !

*Tis as it should be. The decree is past
Irrevocable, as the steadfast law

Digitized by




Of M«de and Ftonrnn, which can never change.
Those who observe it live, as is most meet,
ffigh io thy grace; — who violate it, die.


Scene— Danizl*8 hmut,


itmejMt. Oh, holy Daniel ! prophet, father*
I come the wretched messenfer of ill !
Thj ibee compbt thy death. For what can

This new-made law, extorted Arom the king
Almost by force 7 What can it mean, O Daniel,
But to inrolve thee in the toils they spread
To snare thy precious life 7

Damd. How ! was the king

Consenting to this edict 7

Atofeg, They surprisM

Hu easy nature ; took him when his heart
Was soflen'd by their blandishments. They

The mask of pablio virtue to deceive him.
Beneath the specious name of general good.
They wrought him to their purposes : no time
AllowM him to deliberate. One short hour.
Another moment, and his soul bad gain*d
Her natural tone of virtue.

DafixtX, That great Power

Who sufiers evil only to produce
Some unseen ^rood, permits that this should be :
And He permitting, I, well pleasM resign.
Retire, my friend : this is my second hour
iX^MiXj pray'r. Anon we*U meet again.
Here in (he open face of that bright sun
Tb^ fathers worshipp'd, will I offer up.
As IS my rule, petitions to my God,
For thee, for me, for Solyma, for all !

Jrsfpcs. Oh, stay ! what meanest thou \ sure
thou hast not heard
The edict of the king 7 I thought but now.
Thou kne»*st its purport It expressly says.
That no petition henoeforth shall be made.
For thir^ days save onl^ to the king ;
Nor pray'r nor interoession shall be heard
Of any 6od or man, but of Darius.

Dan. And think*stthott then my reverence
for the king.
Good as he is, shall tempt "me to renounce
My sworn allegiance to the King of kings 7
Hast thou commanded legions 7 strove in battle,
DefyM the face of danger, mockM at death
In all its frightful forms, and tremblest now 7
Come learn of me ; I'll teach thee to be bold,
Tbouffh sword I never drew ! Fear not, Araspes,
The feeble venj^ance of a mortal man, .
Whose breath is in his nostrik : for wherein
Is he to be accounted of 7 but fear
The awaken'd vengeance of the living Lord
He who can plunge the everlasting soul
In infinite perdition !

Arm; Then, O Daniel !

If thou persist to disobey the edict.
Retire and hide thee from the prying eyes
Of busy malice!

i>8ji. He who is asham'd


To vindicate the honour of his Gbd,
Of him the living Lord shall be ashamM
When he shall judge the tribes!

Aran* Yet, O remember.

Oil have I heard thee say, the secret heart
Is fair devotion's temple; there the saint.
E'en on that living altar, lighte the flame
Of purest sacrifice, which burns unseen.
Not unaccepted. — I remember too.
When Syrian Naaman* by Elisha's hand.
Was cleans'd from foul pollution, and his mind
Enlighten'd by the miracle, confess'd
The Almighty God of Jacob : that he deem'd it
No flagrant violation of his faith'
To bend at Rimmon's shrine ; nor did the seer
Forbid the rite external.

Dan, Know, Araspes,

Heav'n designs to suit our trials to our strength ,
A recent convert, feeble in his faith ;
Naaman, perhaps, had sunk beneath the weight
Of so severe a duty. Gracious Heav'n
Forbears to bruise the reed, or quench the flax
When feeble and expiring. But shall I,
Shall Daniel, shall the servant of the Lord,
A vet'ran in his cause— long train'd to know
And do his will — long exercis'd in wo.
Bred in captivity and born to suffer ; ^

Shall I, fh>m known, from certain doty shrink
To shun a threatnn'd danger 7 O, Araspes !
Shall I, advanc'd in age, in zeal decline 7
Grow careless as I reach my journey's end
And slacken in my pace, the goal in view 7
Perish discretion, when it interferes
WiCh duty ! Perish the false policy
Of human wit, which would commute our safety
With God's eternal honour ! Shall His law
Be set at nought, that I may live at ease 7
How would the Heathen triumph, should I fall
Through cowai^^ foar! How would God's

Insultingly blaspheme !

Arat, Yet think a moment

Dan, No !—

Where evil may be dont^ 'tis right to ponder ;
Where only suffered know the shortest pause
Is much too long. Had great Darius paus'd.
This ill had been prevented. But for me,
Araspes, to deliberate is to sin.

Aras, Think of thy pow'r, thy favour with
Think of thy life's importance to the tribes.
Scarce yet retom'd in safety. Live ! O, live !
To serve the cause of God !

Dan, God will himself

Sustain his righteous cause. He knows to raise
Fit instrumento to serve him. Know, Araspes,
He does not need our crimes to help his cause*
Nor does his equiteble law permit
A sinfbl act, from the prepost'rous plea
That good may follow it For me, my friend,
The spacious earth holds not a bait to tempt
What would it profit me, if I should gain
Imperial Ecbaten, th' extended land
Of fruitful Media, nay, the world's wide empire.
If mme eternal soul must be the price 7
Farewell, my flriend! time presses. I havw

Some momente from my duty to confirm

* Kiocs. chip V.

Digitized by VjOOQ IC



And Qtrengthen thv joanr faith ! Let us fulfil
What i]^T*ii eDJoins, and leave to Heav*n th*


Scene— Tht Palace.


Phar. *Tii done— euccess has crowned our
scheme, Soranus;
And Daniel falls into the deep-laid toils
Our prudence spread.

Sor, That he should fall so soon.

Astonishes e*eo me ! what ! not a day !
What ! not a single moment to defer
His rash devotioos ? Madly thus to rush
On certain peril quite transcends belief!
When happened it, Pharnaces 7

Phar. On the instant :

Scarce is the d?ed accomplish*d. As he made
His ostentatious pray'r, e*eo in the face
Of the bright God of day, all Babylon
Beheld the insult offerM to Darius.
For, as in bold defiance of the law.
His windows were not eWd. Our chosen bands.
Whom we had phic'd to note him, straight

rush*d in.
And seized him in the warmth of his blind zeal.
Ere half his prayV was finish'd. Young Araspes,
With all the wild extravagance ofgrief.
Prays, weeps, and threatens. Danid silent

With patient resignation, and prepares
To follow them. — But see, the king approaches !
Sor. How 's this 7 deep* sorrow sits upon his
brow, ,

And stem resentment fires his angry eye !

Mnter darius.

Dor. O, deep-laid stratagem ! O, artful wile !
To take me unprepared, to wound my heart,
E*en where it feels most tdnderly, in friendship !
To stab my fame '. to hold me up a mark
To future ages, for the periorM prince

Online LibraryHannah MoreThe complete works of Hannah More → online text (page 20 of 135)